Belfast Telegraph

Pep Guardiola underlines youth focus as Manchester City plan for summer

Pep Guardiola has underlined Manchester City's focus on youth in their immediate transfer planning.

City have revitalised their attacking options by signing the likes of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus over the past two years.

But the squad as a whole still has an ageing profile, most notably in defence, and there is a recognition younger blood is required.

Manager Guardiola told City TV: "We are buying for the long term. That's why Leroy is here, why Raz is here and why Gabriel is here. All of them are (around) 20 years old.

"Except in one or two cases when we need experience, the age is so important. Maybe we are going to buy a guy who is 28 or 29 years old because we are short in that position and he is going to give three or four important years - but of course, as young as possible is much better."

City have invested heavily in youth football in recent years in Guardiola is hopeful some Academy graduates will break into his first-team squad in the near future. Guardiola is planning to take some of the better prospects on City's pre-season tour this summer.

He said: "I think Manchester City has to be so proud. I am really impressed with the work of the English people, who've worked for a long time here at the Academy.

"There are four or five players - of course they are young, only 16, 17 and 18-years-old - that we would like to put on the field and play them, because I know how important it is for the fans to have people who grew up in the Academy.

"We cannot put them in without the talent, or if they are not able or willing to take on that challenge, but if they are good enough and they have a passion and they want to become something in Europe and world football, all the players in the Academy have to know we are there (watching).

"In the summer, four or five guys will come with us, but it is up to them."

Guardiola recently met with owner Sheikh Mansour and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak during a trip to Abu Dhabi and was impressed by their long-term vision.

He said: "The people cannot expect we just spend money and the results are immediate. To achieve in football we need time. Money can help to advance that but it is not immediate.

"When I spoke with Khaldoon and Sheikh Mansour, I felt this is a commitment for a long time. It doesn't matter who the players or managers will be, that will continue.

"They want to help the community and Manchester to be recognised, not just with one strong team like United, with another one."

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